Page:Grimm's Household Tales, vol.1.djvu/7

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There would seem to be very little need of a preface to any book possessing the great advantage of an Introduction from the pen of Mr. Andrew Lang, especially when it is a book which has always been so popular in this country that it has fully proved its right to the name originally bestowed on it.

The reader may, however, like to know something of its history as told by one of its authors in the preface to the 2nd edition, which was published in 1819. The first edition was in two volumes, the first of which appeared in 1812. The brothers Grimm were thirteen years in collecting the stories in this volume. They were all picked up little by little from the lips of people living in Hesse and Hanau, the districts best known to the authors. The second volume was finished much more quickly: it was ready in 1814. Chance favoured them, friends helped them, but their best friend of all was the wife of a cow-herd living in the village of Niederzwehrn, near Cassel, a woman of about fifty, with intelligent and agreeable but somewhat resolute features, large, bright penetrating eyes, and a perfect genius for story-telling. "Her memory," Grimm tells us, "kept a firm hold of all sagas. She herself knew that this gift was not granted to every one, and that there were many who could remember nothing connectedly. She told her stories thoughtfully, accurately, and with wonderful vividness, and evidently had a delight in doing it. First, she related them from beginning to end, and then, if required, repeated them more slowly, so that after some practice it was perfectly easy to write from her dictation."